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Mall will change face of 1999 for town

(ran PC edition of PT)

Like night and day. That's how different 1998 will be from 1999 when a regional shopping mall opens here March 3.

The Citrus Park Town Center, a mega-mall that promises to not only change shopping for residents in this part of the county but also change the town where the shopping center will be, has met with mixed reactions.

"We thought it was something that would offer an opportunity for Citrus Park to blossom," said Henry Binder, a longtime Citrus Park resident who was consulted on the likelihood of Citrus Park as a mall site nearly 10 years ago. "I think that's about to happen."

Many in Citrus Park fear that the mall, on Sheldon Road west of Veterans Expressway and Gunn Highway, will bring too much development and too much traffic to their town. But few would disagree it will bring upscale shopping within a stone's throw from their front doors.

In keeping with Citrus Park's small-town image, developers hope to evoke a small-town feeling with 120 stores built along a gently curving half-mile-long arc dubbed "Main Street."

Anchored in the middle by Citrus Boulevard, the concourse will have its own unique 20- to 30-foot high store front facades. And the center of the mall, or the heart of town, will be marked with street signs, pointing the way to E Main Street, W Main Street and JCPenny Avenue, Sears Avenue and Burdines Avenue.

In addition to those well known anchor stores, the mall also will be home to some lesser-known, upscale specialty shops such as Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.

Included in the stores set to open at the mall are: Ann Taylor; Victoria Secret's; Talbots; Gymboree; Bombay Co; Brookstone; Casual Corner; Wet Seal; The Finish Line; County Seat; Lerner; Limited; American Eagle; Rice Republic; Store of Knowledge; Disney Store; Chico's; Nine West; Field of Dreams; Godiva Chocolates; This End Up; Easy Spirit; The Icing; K-Bee Toys; General Nutrition; Walden Books; Rack Room Shoes and Sports Fantastic.

Moviegoers as well will have reason to head to the mall where Regal Cinemas will open with 20 theaters and stadium seating.

Also included in the 1.2-million square foot mall are 12 food court tenants as well as free standing restaurants, Johnny Rockets and the Rice Company.